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Board of Directors- Short Bios
Ron Blum- Montana Dakota Utilities, Industry Sector: Energy
Ron Blum is a civil engineering graduate of SD School of Mines and Technology and is a licensed professional engineer. He has worked for MDU as a natural gas engineer, and manager throughout their 5 state service territory. Ron has lived in Rapid City most of his life in spite of moving away 5 times.
Jafar Karim- Black Hills Corporation, Industry Sector: Energy
Jafar J. Karim is Director of Corporate Affairs for Black Hills Corporation and previously held positions in the private and public sectors. Karim was South Dakota’s State Director for USDA Rural Development; managed public affairs for a regional railroad headquartered in Sioux Falls, SD; and served as Director of the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Before returning to South Dakota in 2005, he spent ten years in Washington, DC, working as a congressional advisor and on a presidential campaign.
Shawn Gab- Tri-Tech Manufacturing, Industry Sector: Manufacturing
Joel Brannan- Pete Lien & Sons, Industry Sector: Mining & Manufacturing
Jody Bender- US Bank, Industry Sector: Financial Services
Jody Bender, U.S. Bank Rapid City Market President, Jody earned a bachelor’s degree in commercial economics from South Dakota State University. She is active in the community and has served on the boards and committees of many civic and charitable organizations, including Rapid City Economic Development Partnership, YMCA, South Dakota Development Corporation and United Way of the Black Hills. Jody has more than 25 years of experience in finance and economic development.
Darren Haar- Black Hills Angel Fund, Industry Sector: Entrepreneurship
Darren is currently the Chair of Black Hills Regional Angel Fund and an Entrepreneur in Residence at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He is also Managing Partner of Complete Property Solutions, a multi-family property investment and management company. Darren has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of New Mexico. He has served on the boards of several companies including: DuPont-Samsung Flex Circuit Materials, DuPont-AirProducts Nano Materials KK, Solae-Shinway China, OatTech LLC, and Trion Energy Solutions LLC.
David Lust- Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson & Ashmore, Industry Sector: Law
David Lust is a partner with Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson & Ashmore, LLP where he specializes in business planning and litigation needs. He is also an active member of various community organizations. David served for eight years in the South Dakota House of Representatives and was majority leader for four of those years. He was recently appointed by the Governor to an additional legislative term.
Ron Amedeo- Regional Health, Industry Sector: Healthcare
Ron Amodeo primary areas of responsibility include strategies related to business growth in the marketplace, service line enhancement, retail opportunities, digital health, innovation, partnerships/collaborations and commercialization, and improved business development. He joined in November 2015 after nine years at Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN.
David Westergard, Riddle’s Group, Industry Sector: Manufacturing
David Westergaard is the Executive Vice President/CFO of the Riddle’s Group, Inc. He has been with Riddle’s since February 2001. He graduated from Augustana College in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and the University of South Dakota School of Law in 1997. In addition, he is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Brian Butterfield, Pixel Pines, Industry Sector: Software Development
Brian Butterfield has spent 20 years in the Telecommunications and Business Enterprise software industry holding various roles from software engineer to technology manager. Recently, Brian has become partner at Pixel Pines, a software company, specializing in building custom enterprise software solutions for business crossing many industry sectors. Brian was a Computer Science Adjunct Instructor and holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering and an M.S. in Technology Management from South Dakota Mines.
Tom Weaver, First Interstate Bank, Industry Sector: Financial Services
Thomas Weaver has 22 years in the Financial Services Industry and is a 13-year Veteran of the South Dakota Army National Guard. He graduated in 1994 from Black Hills State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Economics. Tom is a 2005 Graduate of Leadership Rapid City, a 2013 Graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School in Seattle, WA, and a 2016 Graduate of Leadership South Dakota.
Permanent Seats per Bylaws
Steve Allender- Mayor of Rapid City
Steve Allender is a native South Dakotan who grew up in Belle Fourche. He spent 29 years with the Rapid City Police Department and retired at the rank of Police Chief in May of 2014. In June of 2015, Steve was elected Mayor of Rapid City. He has garnered tremendous insight of Rapid City throughout his career and has a very positive vision for the future of this region.
Jason Salamun- Rapid City Council Representative
Jason Salamun was elected to City Council in 2016 and was elected City Council President in 2017. He draws from a wide range of experiences including serving in the U.S. Air Force, guiding Organizational Development and Branding at a Fortune 500, and serving in his current role as a Vice President at Black Hills Federal Credit Union.
Dr. Heather Wilson- President of South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (non-voting)
Heather Wilson became the President of the School of Mines in the summer of 2013. SD Mines is one of the top 10 best returns on investment for a college education in America. The university enrolls 2,800 students from 45 states and 39 countries.
Tom Helland- Chair, Rapid City Chamber of Commerce
Dr. Ann Bolman- President, Western Dakota Technical Institute (non-voting)
Ann Bolman is the president of Western Dakota Tech in Rapid City, South Dakota, where she started working in July 2015. Ann has a doctorate in English from Texas A&M University—Commerce, and a bachelors and masters from Texas A&M University—Kingsville. During Ann’s 27 years of experience in two-year colleges, she has served in as a faculty member and in several administrative roles, including program director, dean of instruction, vice president of instruction, and vice president of campus services.
Dan Senftner- President, Main Street Square, LLC (non-voting)
Dan Senftner, President and CEO of Destination Rapid City, has been a Downtown Rapid City business owner for 20 years. He served as Vice Chairman of Destination Rapid City since its inception in 2008, and was named President and CEO in 2010. His passion is in the betterment of Rapid City and the Downtown area, and increasing the quality of life for visitors and locals alike.
Advisory Members (non-voting)
Pauline Sumption- Director, Rapid City Finance
Pauline Sumption grew up in Yankton and graduated college from Northern State University in 1994 with a double major in Accounting and Finance. After receiving her CPA, she moved to the Black Hills and has worked in municipal government for 17 years. Pauline also serves on the United Way and YMCA Board of Directors.
Patrick Dame- Director, Rapid City Regional Airport
Patrick Dame was raised in Anoka, MN and attended college at St. Cloud State University where he received a B.S. in Aviation Management. He has over 18 years of aviation experience and Rapid City is the fourth airport he has directed.
Gene Bilodeau- Director, Executive Director – Black Hills State University
Gene Bilodeau has been the Executive Director of Black Hills State University , Rapid City Campus since December 2013. Prior to that he was Vice President of the Craig Campus of Colorado Northwestern Community College and sat on the Craig City Council for 2 years. Gene is also a past Board member of the Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership, Craig Chamber of Commerce, Northwest Colorado Regional Workforce Board, Small Business Incubator Advisory Board, and the Community Evaluation Team.
Mike Buckingham- National American University
Michael Buckingham has been a corporate vice president of Dlorah since 1992 and the president of the Fairway Hills division since 1988. He oversees the maintenance of over thirty seven campuses in the National American University system, as well as properties being developed at Fairway Hills. Mr. Buckingham served as an elected official on the Rapid City School Board from June 1998 through December 2002 when he resigned after being elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives where he served until January 2009.
Dr. Lori Simon- Superintendent, Rapid City Area Schools
Dr. Lori Simon joined the Rapid City Area Schools in July 2016. Dr. Simon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Vocal Music from the University of Wisconsin-Superior, a Master’s degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Special Education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, an Education Specialist degree from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, and a Doctor of Education in Leadership degree from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Linda Rabe- President, Rapid City Chamber of Commerce
Linda Rabe has 27 years with the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce. She has a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration/Marketing from National American University, holds a Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) designation and is a graduate of Leadership Rapid City.
Ali DeMersseman- Executive Director, Black Hills Community Economic Development
Ali is the Executive Director of Black Hills Community Economic Development and Black Hills Council of Local Governments. She was born and raised in Rapid City, and has a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Portland State University, Oregon. Ali has worked in city planning for the City of Rapid City and the City of Portland, and in the area of workforce development for Black Hills Special Services Cooperative.
EDP Staff (non-voting)
Benjamin Snow- President (non-voting)
Ben Snow serves as President of the Rapid City Economic Development Partnership. Prior to joining the Partnership in 2009, he was based in Denver, Colorado where he served in several economic development leadership capacities, including Executive Director for the Parker Economic Development Council, President and CEO of the Parker Chamber of Commerce, and Business Development Manager for the Southeast Business Partnership.
Terri Haverly- Vice President
Terri has served as the Vice President of the Rapid City Economic Development for ten years. Her duties include policy issues research, prospect hosting, budget preparation, committee collaboration, and long range planning activities. In May 2006, she was appointed as the first Business Manager for the Black Hills Business Development Center, a facility that assists start-up technology companies by providing space and business support. In 2009, Terri was awarded the SD International Association of Workforce Professionals Individual Citation Award.
Ryan Harris-Workforce Development Coordinator
Ryan Harris is the Workforce Development Coordinator for the Rapid City Economic Development Partnership. His duties include planning, developing, implementing, and evaluating workforce development programs and events for employers, educators and individuals seeking employment. Ryan has a broad background in customer service, sales and marketing, recruiting, human resources and is a certified instructor. He is a Rapid City native and was a local Stevens High School graduate. Ryan is a veteran with over 20 years of military service.
Loni Reichert- Office Manager
Loni is the Office Manager of the Rapid City Economic Development Partnership. She has been with the organization since June of 2000. Her duties include working with the President and staff to increase new business investment which will generate greater employment opportunities, expanded payrolls, and a broader tax base.